tv U.S. Senate CSPAN November 10, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm EST
the idea of lowering the rate is a tremendous place to start because one of the effects we have seen of high corporate tax rates here is companies are keeping their capital overseas because they are not taxed when shipped overseas. many of them would like to bring that money back to the united states, create new jobs, working, manufacturing jobs but the tax code is the biggest barrier for them doing that so the general idea, let's lower the rate. >> host: repatriation tax is said to be applied for investment in the united states. would you agree with that? >> guest: the ideal is lower the rate that has the same effect when you bring it back. .. when they bring it back, it would be a reduced tax rate that they pay on it. you would see a tremendous benefit there. host: from new mexico, temp, independent line. caller: hello, david. all, why do you call
yourself club for growth when you might as well call yourself koch industries because that is who you represent. with the value added tax, that is a regressive tax. that hurts poor people more than it does rich people. in this trickle-down theory that reagan started, you know, that does not work. it has been shown to not work. the middle class is disappearing because of it. i would like to get your comments. guest: i think the biggest reason we are seeing a >> guest: i think the biggest resourcing a struggling middle class is actually been this notion that we should increase our regulatory programs, make welfare a very rich safety net rather than a temporary assistance for people. and there is no hope of their that if you work hard, save your money, tried to a better life for your family that you would
get ahead. i think the reagan era reversed that temporarily, and then starting with president clinton and some of his policies, outside of the tech area, increased regulation and certainly with president obama's efforts where he subsidized the rich wall street banks but ended up forcing most employers to absorb huge costs for their health care come huge costs for starting new plans because of the epa regulations. all of that what has deprived the middle class of this opportunity to have a good job with a high pay that they can take more of it home. >> host: bob, chattanooga, tennessee, republican line. >> caller: how are you? >> guest: good. >> caller: listen, my point is, is that nothing in this country is going to work until we start to get rid of the
infection in this government, and you know exactly what i'm talking about, the man behind the curtain. he is exposed. until restored to look at that and start doing something about that, okay, nothing, i don't care what programs you want to put up in this country, it's all dysfunctional because it becomes on an infected government. you know it as well as i do. i'm looking at it in the eye. you know it. you know the fed needs to go. it's destroying this country. we are at the doorstep of a freaking financial collapse in this country and i don't see not one thing on media. because they are all bought and paid for by -- you know it. the walberg's, they run the whole thing. you've got the freaking guy from
freaking israel coming over, i don't want to mention his name because i'm so upset with this country and the congress that has allowed it to come to this point. wait, let me just finish. he's coming over here, he wants $4 billion we already know $20 trillion in debt. all of this talk that you're talking about taxes, is, that come it's all baloney, man, because none of it is going to work. >> guest: thank you. one idea on the federal reserve that i think the time has come for is rand paul's notion that there should be a full audit, and we don't need a government entity that is setting monetary policy to do a completely behind closed doors with no audit for what you used to purchase these securities out in the marketplace, how much addicted they have, what are they doing there? looks to many of us like they're printing money.
but i think it to audit that would disclose that to the american people is exactly what's needed at this point. washington journal says that john kasich favors full of media write-offs for company atax breaks.e >> host: what you think about those two concepts? >> guest: both of those would be pro-growth elements. there are features that been used in other tax reforms in the past. i guess what i would worry about focusing just on that is john losing opportunity we have now to start taking special preferences out of the tax code. he would take some of them, but the real way to do it is companies reform where you lowered the rates and that would force them to remove all of them, or most all of them. probably the ones that would survive, the political process would be the tax preference for home mortgages and their charitable deductions host the 2,027,488,000 come online for
democrats. (202)748-8001, republicans. our guest a macintosh from the president of club for growth and also former representative of the state of indiana. mark from ohio. go ahead. >> caller: good morning, david. david, i was just calling. i can't figure out republicans. mr. roemer was just on there before you, and he was talking about how everybody dislikes the citizens united decision, okay, but the citizens united decision, you know, republicans are always the same we have to get more people on the supreme court. the republicans justices on the supreme court are the ones that voted for this citizens united decision. so you can't have it both ways. they are saying that is really messed up the country, and so
they let the more conservative justices. and so they will, i mean, it just doesn't make sense to me. >> guest: first, i think tim roemer's position is the democratic position, not the republicans position on citizens united. our view is free speech rights really matter, and when most people choose to exercise those free speech rights is to contribute money to groups that will speak for them. and so we agree with the citizens united decision at the club for growth. and stepping back for the full debate, i don't have a problem with americans spending money in the political process talking about what is our country should look like. he sides with statistics about how few people actually did that. to me the problem is we need more people who will decide this matters for the future of my
children and our country and our community. i want to get involved. if they can contribute money to groups they believe in, or volunteer and get out there and work in the campaign. i think if you have an open system of equal playing field, everybody knows what's going on and everybody has the same rules for how they can participate, that we're going to get a better result in the election house of representatives republican line, virginia beach, virginia, rob, go ahead. >> caller: good morning. i just want to say that i think these primary elections i would like to see a conservative candidates not forget about the christian right wing of the party, not so much focusing on the business wing but remember to appeal to the evangelical base of the republican party. that's something i have not seen too much of from the front
runners like trope in carson, but some people who are not pulling back well, marco rubio, cruise, they been doing the best job of attempting to mobilize the evangelical christian base of the conservatives. -- cruz. >> guest: robert, i think you're going to see more of that. our group does not participate in those issues. we are really focused on economic ones and how to create growth which by the way i think then frees up our citizens. we believe in people having, working hard and being able to keep or the many. i think it in frees up citizens to give donations to their church, to the local community groups and creates a society where your goals and values are better reflect.
>> host: while i have you i want to get your response to the president's eventually turning down the approval of the keystone xl pipeline. >> guest: yeah, i thought just an incredible political maneuver. and not a surprise. he's done everything he could to stall and delay that. he's done it to the point where natural gas prices are so low that the public is about an economic driver for that anymore, but it's a symbol that he did right before the world gathering on climate change. and it says i'm still going to be for government control of the energy sector. >> host: i was at the white house last week he gave some of the economic reasons why the bible and shouldn't be approved. i want you to listen to it and get responses to it. >> the pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy. so if congress is serious about wanting to create jobs, this was not the way to do it. if they want to do it, what we
should be doing is passing a bipartisan infrastructure plan that in the short term could create more than three times as many jobs per year as the pipeline would. and in the long run would benefit the economy and our workers for decades to come. our business has created 268,000 new jobs last month. month. they have to create a 13.5 million new jobs over the past 68 straight months, longest streak on record. the unemployment rate fell to 5%. this congress should pass a serious infrastructure plan and keep those jobs coming. that would make a difference. the pipeline would not have made a serious impact on those numbers. >> host: david mcintosh to what you think about his argument transfer it shows the real flaw in president obama's thinking. he views that the government should decide which jobs should be great of which jobs should be destroyed. and so to advance a political
agenda come in this case radical environmental listen, he wants to forgo the jobs created the pipelines but he said the grading infrastructure jobs. to promote his political agenda of government takeover of health care, he's willing to sacrifice millions of jobs of small employees, employers who couldn't afford to provide health care whether employers so they started shrinking the roles. that's diametrically opposed to what we think the role of government is. government should provide security, should provide enforcement of property rights and contracts, but then let the private sector decide we want to build a pipe with or do we want to build a road? and invest in the. we have a tradition in this country of government sponsored freeways in infrastructure. our view is turn that back to the states, send the funding to them, let them develop this plan to do that, but keep it in the private sector or how you do and what you do.
>> host: from oklahoma, isaiah up an extra republican line. good morning. >> caller: good morning. >> guest: high, isaiah. >> host: caller, you are on. go ahead. caller, go ahead please. okay, we will go to jim in indianapolis, indiana. hide there. >> guest: high, jim. no, how are you doing, mr. mcintosh? my quick question was on your immigration policy and the club for growth. you know, you were pretty good i guess, mediocre representative of the state of indiana their timing, i knew some people -- >> guest: canada was pretty good? >> caller: the question is, the fact of the matter is that jobs are created by right people, and most of our top corporations now are training some of the good people to train
overseas graduates and give them their jobs. this inevitably will make things actually very difficult for the educated in this country. just wanted, club for growth, i don't know if it's a front for another, you know, lobbyist outfit, but just give me your opinion on that. >> guest: sure, jim. and basically the club for growth does not engage in the immigration debate really one way or another. we focus on a lot of the other priorities i was sharing with you come out with pro-growth tax policy, reduce spending into debt, reduce regulation and promote free trade to create jobs and opportunities here. so we really have not taken a position on the immigration policy one way or the other. >> host: want to ask about the new house speaker paul ryan.
former head of ways and means producing to bring fiscal reforms to how congress works? >> guest: and i served with paul. use on my subcommittee on regulatory relief when he was a freshman member. i think he is a breath of fresh air. he has an opportunity now to focus on entitlement reform in particular, and to move the republican congress out of this stalemate they've allowed themselves to get in would essentially let harry reid and nancy pelosi dictate the budget process. and move towards one where republicans will lead since they have the majority and set out their priority. >> we believe this "washington journal" segment now with david mcintosh at the club for growth. you can see it on our website c-span.org. lied to the senate. -- live to the senate.
the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: i understand i am to be recognized for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: that is correct. without objection. mr. wicker: thank you, mr. president. in a few moments we're going to vote on a motion to instruct the conferees on the highway bill. it will be a motion to instruct them not to proceed with a federal mandate that would force these long double trailers called twin 33's on to 38 states
where currently they are illegal. and i would observe to my colleagues, mr. president, that it is not often that we get a chance to vote on a motion that will accomplish so many things. we are going to get a chance in 30 minutes or so to vote on a motion that will save lives. it is a motion that would prohibit a federal mandate. it's a motion that supports small business. it's a motion that would save $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion per year in highway maintenance, and a vote that is supported by the overwhelming majority of the american people. so this is a rare opportunity for us to come together on a motion that does all of those
things. it's also a bipartisan motion to instruct. it will be sponsored by the senator from california, senator feinstein, and there will be bipartisan votes for the motion on both sides of the aisle. now why are we here? the motion is here because -- it stems from an amendment in the appropriations committee to the transportation appropriations bill which would require every state to allow these twin 33-foot trailers on federal highways. currently some 12 states do allow them. they have a right to do that. if they made a considered decision in their state legislatures and in consultation with their departments of transportation, then more power
to it. but, mr. president, 38 states say these trucks are not safe. these trucks are too long. and they tell us we don't want them on the highways. i think we should respect that decision by these 38 states. now, who supports the wicker-feinstein motion to instruct the conferees? and i go back to a point that this is a vote to save lives. who says this? triple-a says this, a respected nationwide organization that knows quite a bit about highway safety. trim pell-a says support -- triple-a says support the wicker amendment, don't mandate on these 38 states, something they want to do with these trucks. here's a passenger car here on
this diagram. look how much longer this proposed twin 33 double rig with the tractor part on the front, look how much longer that is. you know, frankly, the american people don't want to con contend with these long double trailers on their roads. the advocates for highway and auto safety say this isn't safe. so vote "yes" on the wicker-feinstein motion would be a vote for safety. the national troopers coalition, we ought to listen to them, mr. president. they say these trucks are not safe. and at the very least, don't mandate it from washington, d.c. now, i would in the time remaining, if members are back at their offices, if legislative staffs are back at their offices, they might call their local troopers in the various
states, in the 50 states to see what the troopers say about this. i will tell you troopers in state after state after state after state say don't mandate these long trucks. sheriffs associations say don't mandate these long trucks. chiefs of police say don't mandate these long twin 33 double trailers. so, you ask yourself, well, now, what does a chief of police in a municipality have to do with this? aren't we talking about interstate highway? at one point these will be on federal highways. not true at all. i don't know about you, but in the place where i live, if something comes in by truck, they bring it right into town. so the chiefs of police say we don't want these twin 33's on our two-lane streets.
we don't want them on the two-lane highways. that would be the result of the mandate that is contained in the appropriations bill unless we turn that around. who else is opposed to mandating twin 33's on 38 states that don't want them? state trucking associations. you'd think truckers would be for this. after all, if you're big enough, you've got enough money, if you're a big enough trucking company, you can buy the truck, haul more, make more money. that's the idea of this. but we need to bear in mind, mr. president, that most of the truckers in the united states of america are small businesses. and, frankly, some of them have told me to pass this mandate on all 50 states without letting my state opt out, i'm going to go out of business.
that's what they tell me e. and so, we have resolutions from the mississippi trucking association, from the arizona trucking association, from frome louisiana trucking association. and we have an alliance of small business truckers from states which include indiana, texas, tennessee, nebraska, louisiana, maryland, washington, iowa, mississippi, arizona, pennsylvania, oregon, and arkansas. and i could go on and on. trucking companies, small truckers in all of these states saying please don't put us out of business by having us try to compete with these large twin 33's. and so, you know, i would submit to my colleagues 20 minutes from now we're going to come in here
and have a vote. this is the opportunity, and the only opportunity, that 100 senators elected by the people of the 50 states will have to address ourselves on this issue. this vote which we're going to take in just a few moments will send a strong signal to the people in some office here on capitol hill and some room on capitol hill where they are devising the omnibus appropriations bill. we need to send a strong signal to them that we don't want this mandate in the omnibus. we don't want the mandate in the highway bill. but we need a strong vote -- and this is a chance to show how we stand with small business in our states, with the troopers, with
the sheriffs, with the chiefs of police, with the trucking associations, and with the advocates or highway safety. so i would urge my colleagues to thoroughly consider this in the next 20 or 25 minutes. and when you come in here to vote, mr. president, a vote "yes" will be a vote to avoid the federal mandate. i urge my colleagues to join me on a bipartisan basis, and i believe they will join me on a bipartisan basis in allowing the 38 states that opt out of this to continue to do so and making a stand for small business, for states' decision-making and for safety. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
mr. president, do i understand we are going to move to a vote at a quarter till? the presiding officer: that is correct. mr. wicker: at this point i would ask unanimous consent that time -- that the remaining time while we're in quorum calls be divided equally between the parties. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: thank you. i do note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mrs. boxer: mr. president, we're about to vote on whether we want to go to conference with our transportation bill that passed this body with well over 60 votes in july. and we've been pushing hard, we senators on both sides of the aisle, to move the house toward a situation where we can finally go to conference and reconcile the two bills. well, we are at that point and i certainly hope we get a very solid vote. i am also hopeful that the wicker-feinstein motion does -- does succeed. and i certainly will try my best to raise it in the conference. mr. president, we still have about 1.5 million unemployed construction workers since the recession and we have seen terrific job growth but we know it hasn't hit all the sectors. so this is an extremely important bill, and also we know
that thousands of businesses rely on a robust highway trust fund, whether it's the granite people, the cement people, they're all for going to conference. whether it's the international machinists or it's the laborer h'seurope, or it's the chamber f commerce, national association of manufacturers, it's a rare and glorious thing to see everybody come together and say, let's get a bill. and we want to get get a robust bill. we don't just want to have a bill that is business as usual and this is why. mr. president, we've got 60,000 bridges that are deficient. they were not built with the kinds of traffic they are now withstanding in mind. so we must have this vote to go to conference. i wanted to thank the majority leader, senator mcconnell, for his work, the democratic leader, senator reid.
i want to also extend my thanks to senator cantwell who worked so hard with other senators on this side to get ex-im included in this bill. we will have the export-import reauthorization in this bill. and i'm very excited to get to conference. and my goals, just to put it on the table, are to -- to bring to that conference the bipartisan spirit we had when we did this bill in the united states senate. when i thanked both the majority leader and the democratic leader, it's because i think they put strong people on this conference. i think there's going to be a good conference. we have a lot of similarities. somebody who looked at both bills said that the house bill is about 90% similar to the senate bill. this is a good thing. this means we don't have to take our time because the trust fund, the authorization runs out very soon. very soon.
right before thanksgiving. so it's a good moment i think for the united states senate. i think we showed leadership on both sides of the aisle in getting this bill done. we continue to work well together. both leaders have sent strong conferees to the conference. i know our staffs are already speaking and i'm hopeful we get a strong vote, which i think we're going to have in a few minutes. am i displect is it about three minutes -- am i correct? is it in about three minutes from now, mr. president? the presiding officer: that's correct. mrs. boxer boxer: all right. so in three minutes, i hope we have a solid vote to take these bills -- to take our bill with conference with the house where i will work very hard with chairman shuster and the rest. i would note i read that congressman defazio, who is the ranking member in the house, has had a very serious eye situation and had to go for emergency surgery. i want to say that my heart's with him. he is a very important person in
terms of weighing in on the transportation needs. and i will work with him. i will speak with him and i'm very hopeful that although he may not be present -- i hope he will be present for the conference -- if he is not, i want to reassure him that we will take his concerns into this conference. so, mr. president, i'm looking forward to a strong vote. i yield the floor. mrs. boxer: i yield back all time and proceed. the presiding officer: is there objection? all time is yielded back. the clerk will report the motion
to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersinned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the motion to disagree the amendment of the house, agree to a conference and authorize the president to appoint conferees. signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mantd to her quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the notion disagree to the house amendment to the senate amendment, agree to the request for conference with the house and authorize the presiding officer to appoint conferees with respect to h.r. 22, shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under this rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
the presiding officer: have all senators voted? do any senators wish to change their vote? on this vote, the yeas are 82, the nays are 7. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. under the previous order, the compound motion is agreed to. a senator: mr. president?
the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: mr. president, i have a motion to instruct at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from mississippi, mr. wicker, moves that the managers on the part of the senate at the conference of the disagreeing votes of the two houses on the senate amendment to the bill h.r. 22 be instructed to -- mr. wicker: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the reading. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. wicker: mr. president, i understand i have two minutes. i'm going to speak briefly and then yield to senator feinstein. this is what this is about. these twin 33 double trailers, longer than are legal in 38 states. the question is whether we as a senate -- the presiding officer: the senator will suspend.
the senator is recognized. mr. wicker: whether we as a senate, we as a congress, we as a federal government are going to mandate on the 38 states that don't allow these to allow them on the roads at any rate. so a yes vote would be a vote against the federal mandate. when do you get in one fell swoop an opportunity to vote, a vote that will save lives, a vote to prevent a federal mandate, a vote for small business, a vote to say $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion a year in highway maintenance and a vote supported by the overwhelming majority of the people? vote yes not to mandate this on the states. i yield to the senator from california. the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: i thank the senator. mr. president, if you look at that, that is 91 feet with the twin 33's and the cab. 91 feet of truck. 38 states do not want it in
their state. this bill overwhelms that. we had an amendment in the appropriations committee which would prevent that. it was a tie vote. so senator wicker and i ask you please don't force states to do this before the safety work is done by the secretary. we have 4,000 people killed every year from these trucks in all kinds of horrific accidents, and they are not as long as this one. these trucks were not the -- will not only be on the freeways, but they will be in the villages, the towns and the cities as well. so i hope you will support this motion to instruct, to protect the 38 states who say before you do this, do the safety investigation and tell us that these trucks are safe. i yield the floor. i thank the chair.
the presiding officer: have all senators voted? does any senator wish to change their vote? on these instructions, the yeas are 56, the nays are 31. the instructions are agreed to. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: mr. president, i have a motion at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: the senator from connecticut, mr. blumenthal, moves that the managers on the part of the senate, conference on the disagreeing votes of the two houses on the house amendment to the bill h.r. 22 be instructed to insist upon the inclusion of the rail safety provisions contained in the
amendment passed by the senate on july 30, 2015, including the authorization of grants for the installation of positive train control. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: there will be four minutes of debate equally divided. the senator will suspend for a moment. mr. blumenthal: thank you. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. in recent years, all of our constituents have seen a scourge in rail accidents. there have been these similar accidents all around the country. this motion insists that the senate's provisions be included in this conference and in what comes out of the conference committee, including the authorization of grants for the installation of positive train control. this summer with the leadership of the committee chairman, senator thune and ranking member bill nelson, both champions of
rail safety in this instance, resulted in some very key reforms, and the senate passed the drive act. not perfect, troublesome in some highway safety elements but forward thinking on rail safety. it includes funding for p.t.c., redundant signal protection, improved inspection practices, and a follow-up on the f.r.a. deep dive investigation. these provisions help along with cameras and grade crossings to advance the cause of rail safety. the house has done nothing. the house bill is completely and objectly lacking on rail safety. therefore, this motion instructs our conferees to insist on the senate's provisions. i know that our conferees will be extremely sympathetic and
supportive, but simply to express our views, i ask that this measure be approved and that the motion be taken on voice vote. and i ask that all remaining time be yielded back. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the question occurs on the motion. hearing no further debate, all those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the most carries. the chair appoints the following conferees on the part of the senate which the clerk will report. the clerk: senators inhofe, thune, hatch, murkowski, fischer, barrasso, cornyn, boxer, brown, nelson, wyden, durbin and schumer. mr. blunt: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
senator from missouri. mr. blunt: i ask unanimous consent the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: mr. president, i would ask that i be allowed to speak for up to 15 minutes as i approach my remarks right now. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: mr. president, i'm honored to represent nearly 500,000 missouri veterans in the senate. tomorrow on veterans day, we pause to reflect on the countless contributions and sacrifices that the men and women who serve in uniform and have served in uniform have made to our country. i hope that we will all use this opportunity to recommit ourselves not only to appreciate their service but to be sure that the commitments that our government has made to them, -- to them are commitments that we are sure that we move forward on, that they are commitments that we look at the time and place and the veterans being served and decide when they need to be changed.
i think one of the things that we've done in the last year to create more choices, more competition for veterans is an important step in that direction. i know whenever i introduced the excellence in mental health act with senator stabenow, one of our biggest support groups of that act which not only would treat behavioral health like all other health but create more opportunities to access behavioral health, the younger veterans, the iraq veterans, the iran veterans, the veterans from afghanistan who wanted to have more choices were big supporters of not just traditional v.a. services but other services as well. i'm pleased that the bill today steps forward in important ways and does things for veterans. the bill we just voted on, the military construction and veterans' affairs appropriations bill actually reached a level --
a record level of funding for veteran services. it increases veteran services by $7.9 million over last year's level. it appropriates a billion dollars more than the president asked for, and it was also a bipartisan vote for lots of reasons. there should be no more bipartisan cause among all the funding bills, and this bill that takes care of veterans, this bill that provides the facilities that people serving and their families need. this is an important thing for us to do and really a great week for us to do it. by providing the specific funding that this bill does for women veterans. there is a women veterans clinic in st. louis that i was able to be at recently. it provides additional care for iraq and afghanistan veterans.
it provides treatment for the kind of traumatic brain injuries that veterans often leave the military with today that they did not have post-9/11, post the devices that are cowardly devices they used to attack our people in the service. it increases veterans for our funding -- veterans' funding in areas like health care, benefit claims processing, medical research, technology upgrades. it also includes funding for construction and renovation of projects that ensure military readiness and improve the quality of life for military families. general ray order narrow, the recently retired sergeant, said families are the strength of the military. we recently introduced a bill,
the military families stability act that allows us to do new things, that allow families for education or professional reasons to stay longer or to leave earlier when the person serving gets transferred. you know, if there is a month of school left or a professional thing that the spouse needs to be part of and needs to finish up a job quickly or go to a job early, why wouldn't we want to let that happen and other legislation, but this legislation looks at the military family needs among the other things it looks at. because of the dissatisfaction that many of our veterans appropriately have with the veterans administration, this bill includes necessary reforms like protection for whistle-blowers, the kind of protection that construction oversight managers need and sets some new measures for construction oversight so that we don't have these facilities costing more than they should cost, and frankly if we look at
competitive alternatives that veterans should have available to them, it's probably a good time to think about how we can make that program work better rather than continue to invest more money in facilities that you have to brief by better locations to get to that would give you that choice. this bill, mr. president, has been ready for months now. i was disappointed that the democrats blocked consideration of this bill earlier this year, but i'm pleased that we finally got to a bill that everybody could vote for. it actually shows just how shortsighted the lack of willingness to let us do our work, to bring this bill to the floor, to let members make -- offer amendments. those amendments were either included in the bill or explained to members, no, this is already there, we've already taken care of this or this is
why this doesn't have to be done. we have a real obligation to take care of our veterans, of those who are serving already, and i hope we continue to build on the work we've done today. now earlier today we also passed the bipartisan defense authorization act, another bill we could have gotten to earlier. in fact, the house passed earlier, the president -- we passed it on the second try, the president vetoed it, but now that same essential bill goes back to the president's desk because some other problem has been solved that should have never been tied to authorizing the defense of the country. every year since 20 11 now, the -- every year since 2011 now, the congress passed and the president has signed a bill, just like the bill we passed today, that would make it clear to the president that the congress doesn't want the
president to go forward with his proposed changes for guantanamo. unfortunately, the media reports suggest that the president, once again, is considering acting unilaterally to bring terrorists to the united states. both of these bills today, mr. president, said no terrorist can be brought to the united states from guantanamo. it's another example of the president ignoring the law, deciding i'm going to enforce the law i want to enforce; i'm going to ignore the law i want to ignore. he did that about -- a few months ago with executive amnesty, where the president decided there are just some laws that relate to people who are in the country that are here without documents that i don't intend to enforce that law. unfortunately for the president -- and fortunately for the law -- the u.s. court of appeals in the fifth circuit ruled
yesterday -- they ruled late -- they ruled last night that the president can't do what the president said he was going to do. now, an earlier court had immediately said the president can't do what he said he was going to do. i heard one of the spokesmen for the white house this morning say, well, every legal expert we've talked to believes the president has the authority to do this. well, parntsl apparently none oe legal experts they've talked to are legal judges because legal judges two levels below the supreme court have decided that the president doesn't have in all likelihood the authority he says he has. the courts, along with a bipartisan majority of the congress, have taken the president to task on a sweeping new rule on utter wit waters ofd states, something we debated here last week. the law says the e.p.a. has the authority to regulate navigable waters in the country, and for
170 years everybody understood what that meant. and i think everybody still probably understands what that means, even the people at the e.p.a. who wante want it to mean something much broader than it clearly means. and federal courts again, at both the first level and the appeals level -- the appeal of the appeal court and the appeal court have said, no, you don't have the authority to do that. we're not going to let that rule go into effect. that rule, by the way, mr. president, in my state would put more than 99% of all of the geography of missouri under the control of the e.p.a. for anything that related to water -- any water that runs off a roof, any water that runs off a parking lot, into a ditch. if the e.p.a. wants that authority, they need to come to
the congress and ask, give us authority for all of the land mass, 99.3% of missouri, a understanandseveral other amounr states. give us the authority. of course, the congress would not do that. the congress knew what they said "navigable waters" and the earp e.p.a. -- and the e.p.a. has never suggested that the congress change the law. they'd like to change it on their ownment bu own. but the sixth circuit court of appeals has said, no, you don't have the authority to do that. here's another issue that has to go to the supreme court. apparently the president doesn't mind going to the supreme court and doesn't mind to be reversed by the supreme court. the president, particularly it appears, doesn't mind to be reversed by the supreme court if somehow the rules got by the other two levels of federal court, as the mercury rule did two years ago, and 22 months
later when the supreme court finally ruled, they said, well, no, the e.p.a. doesn't have the authority to regulate that item in that way, but even people at the e.p.a. said, well, even though we didn't have the authority, 1,500 power plants had to close down permanently because of the rule and seemed to take some great pleasure in the fact that the rule accomplished the goal, even though the law was not served and the e.p.a., according to the court -- the supreme court, didn't have the authority for that rule. on the president's overreach, i introduced a law again this year -- i reintroduced a law the executive needs to observe and respectfully enforce.
the enforce act, which is something you wouldn't think the congress has to say, which is, "mr. president, you have to enforce the law." man, you have taken an oath to uphold the constitution. there is a way to do this job and a constitutional way, and there's a way to do the job in the way you're doing it now. we shouldn't need this bill. the president is swore to uphold the law. we see with the action we took today -- another place where the congress has clearly spoken now over and over and over and over again - and the president says,f the congress won't do this, i'm going to do it on my own. apparently, the president has discovered some power as commander in chief to close military bases. does that mean the president on his own can close any military base in the country? i don't think that's a precedent we would want to start. there is a way to do this. the congress has to be involved. the law and the constitution have to be respected, and over and over and over again, even on
the eve of veterans day, those who did more than anybody else to defend our freedoms, even on the eve of veterans day, we need to remind ourselves what the constitution is all about, what the country stands for, and freedoms that those veterans were willing to serve to defend. and i would yield the floor. mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, it is my habit to give my "time to wake up" speeches once a week when the senate is in session. it is also a practice of mine to go to other states, particularly states that have republican senators, to look at what's happening in the state and get a sense of where the local universities and the local experts are with respect to climate change.
my last visit was to ohio. i've been to also rhode island, north carolina, south carolina, georgia, florida, tennessee, and iowa, and the thing that is common across all of those trips is that there's no denying climate change in those states. that's a function of this building, and it is a function of the wall of money that the fossil fuel industry has erected around this building. but pick a state university in the country and go there, and you will find that there is simply not climate denial. and i'm joined today by my friend, sherrod brown, the senator from ohio, ohio's senior senator, who was kind enough to accompany me on the trip, on several parts of it anyway. we met in cleveland and had a couple meetings there together. and another one of my visits was to lake erie, which got
clobbered by the bacteria that had to shut down toledo's climate system, which is also climate change-related. let me yield to the senator from ohio for a few moments, and then we can talk about cleveland and the lake. mr. brown: i thank senator whitehouse, and there's no one -- when i introduced senator whitehouse to the mayor of cleveland and to a number of experts in cleveland, from public health officials to wind energy entrepreneurs to community groups to -- where climate change matters so much to them, i introduced him as probably -- not just probably, the person in the senate that has done a better job of focusing public attention on the threats of climate change and what it means to our way of life, what it means to our country. and so i thank senator whitehouse 230r fo for that. i want to moint to point to whad to toledo, ohio, in 2003.
this algae bloom is making its way -- in 2014, last august, 15 months ago, algae blooms were so serious in lake erie in the western basin -- toledo is in the western basin of lake erie, ash aashtabula is in the eastern basin of lake erie. but they lost -- again, this is not the most serious situation, although the algae bloom is so over-wellcomeinsooverwhelming g here. the problem with lake erie, it's the most vulnerable lake because iters the shallowest wake. in the western basin of lake eary, it's only 30 feet deep.
it's the -- it's fed by the maumee river, the largest tributary of any river into any of the five great lakes. 30 feet deep here fed by farmland and commercial activity and industry and homeowners -- greater toledo, northwest ohio -- contrast that with lake superior. 30 feet deep here. lake superior is 600 feet deep on the average. and lake superior is mostly drained forests. so you can see why cleveland and toledo are so vulnerable to climate change and so vulnerable to pollution and all that's happened with the algae blooms. people in toledo -- 500,000 people lost their drinking water for two and a half days. people were great stepping up from all over michigan and indiana and ohio to pitch in with water. climate change isn't the only reason this happened but it's
clearly happened -- and the hot weather. it's worse and worse and worse. lake erie is only 2% of all the great lakes' water. lake erie is 2% of all the great lakes' water i because it is shallow. 50% of the fish of all the great lakes are in lake erie because fish will produce and will prosper in shallower, warmer water. but this is -- was too warm because of climate change and all the things that came out of that. in this meeting we had with dr. parnabol, a pediatric specialist, she talke talked abt asthma rates. i'll turn it back to senator whitehouse and ask him what he learned from these meetings. he was not just meeting with people in cleveland, what climate change means there, he also went to the stone lab -- i-
--and he can tell but that. then he had an amazing meeting at the ohio state university with some of america's great climate scientists. i thank him for coming to the floor every single week, for traveling the country and looking at places where climate change has done the most damage in terms that people can understand, look at this. and his leadership in this is so, so important. i thank senator whitehouse for the work he did and am so grateful that he came to the city of cleveland and joininged us. mr. whitehouse: i was very happy to do it. i thought the mayor was impressive on this subject. he pointed out that there are times when you simply have to go with the future and if you decide to hang on to the old past, you will fail as a result of having missed that curve. and he said that the business community in cleveland was really beginning to get that and beginning to take it on. so he's led with a cleveland
climate action plan, which is one of the best ones in the country. we went to a great place where they're growing lettuce hydro-uponically -- hydro- ponically, under an open-glass ceiling. and they're using captured rainwater, recycling it. the people there had jobs that paid well. they were owners of the project and they were really vested in it. wasn't the morale of the people working there phenomenal? it was terrific. the doctor was veryattuned to what was happened in minority communities from from asthma, from heat. she's seeing it with her young patients. she was wonderful talking about that. at this point because of toxic ground levels, ragweed being a
trigger for asthma attacks, she says more than one in five african-american kids in cleveland has asthma. she connects it to what's happening in climate change. we understand that in rhode island because we have the same bad air days when we have to have kids stay indoors and elderly stay indoors all because of the air coming from the midwest that has been fouled by these power plants. out on lake erie, i met with some of the scientists from stone labs and a couple of lifelong fishing captains who have been out there on the lake. here we're looking at some of the water samples. this is what the water should look like. but back before when the climate change driven rain bursts were flooding lake erie with phosphorous from the watershed, from the farms in the watershed, there was this explosion of scionotic bacteria to the where these guys said driving the boats